Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Hosting the World

by Chris McMichael, 2012

Using the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa as a case study, this paper will explore how security measures for sports mega-events have been steadily militarized with policing operations comparable to war planning. It will be argued that this is representative of the ‘new military urbanism’ in which everyday urban life is rendered as a site of ubiquitous risk leading to the increased diffusion of military tactics and doctrines in policing and policy.

While the interpenetration between urbanism and militarism has often been studied
against the context of the War on Terror, the paper will argue that in the case of South Africa this has primarily been accelerated by a pervasive social fear of violent crime, which has resulted in the securitization of cities, the remilitarization of policing and the intensification of a historical legacy of socio-spatial inequalities. The South African government used the World Cup to ‘rebrand’ the country’s violent international image, while promising that security measures would leave a legacy of safer cities for ordinary South Africans. However, using military urbanism as a conceptual backdrop, the case studies presented in the second part of the paper argue that policing measures were primarily cosmetic and designed to allay the fears of foreign tourists and the national middle class. In practice, security measures pivoted around the enforcement of social control and urban marginalization while serving as a training ground for an increasingly repressive state security apparatus. The paper will conclude with a discussion of how the global crossover between militarism and urbanism threatens to stimulate and rehabilitate deeply entrenched authoritarian tendencies in South Africa.
Click here to download this paper in pdf.